The ICC's cricket committee has recommended that the governing body make the latest British Safety Standard (BSS) helmets mandatory in international cricket, following a two-day meeting at Lord's. The committee also said it was of the view that the current playing conditions allow players who are struck on the field of play to receive the best possible medical attention, so there was no need to introduce innovations like concussion substitutes.
"The committee considered the matter of helmet safety following a presentation on injury surveillance trends by ICC medical consultant Dr Craig Ranson," the ICC said. "The committee expressed concerns that there were still too many instances of international cricketers wearing helmets which did not meet the latest British Safety Standard (BSS). It recommended that the ICC should enforce the wearing of the latest BSS-compliant helmets in all international cricket.
"The committee considered a proposal from Cricket Australia (CA) for a 'concussion substitute' to be trialled for two years in domestic first-class cricket. The committee acknowledged the seriousness of the issue of concussion in cricket, and stressed the need for consistent concussion policy to be implemented in all countries, but its view was that the current laws and playing conditions allow players to receive the best possible medical treatment, and further change to the regulations in this area is not required at present."
BSS-compliant helmets have a narrower gap between the peak and grille, and are not adjustable on each side, reducing the likelihood of a ball bursting through the opening. Recently, the matter was in the news when England captain Alastair Cook turned out in a non-compliant helmet in Essex's opening County Championship match despite the ECB having endorsed the BSS helmets.
As for concussion substitutes, last month Alex Kountouris, CA's head of sports science, had said that the issue was something cricket needed to discuss. "We've put it to the ICC that we want to trial it and see what sort of impact it has," he said. "Does it make it that much easier for the medical staff to take a player off the field when they have concussion?" At the same time, CA chief executive James Sutherland had urged that a balance be maintained between best safety practices and maintaining cricket's fabric. "You can make the game of cricket a lot safer by playing with a tennis ball, but that's not how Test cricket has been played and it would obviously be a very different game," Sutherland said. "We're not wanting to go there, but we do need to find the right balance in the circumstances to not compromise the way the game's played."
The cricket committee's recommendations will be tabled at the next ICC chief executives' committee and the ICC board meeting in Edinburgh in July.
Other discussions at the cricket committee meeting centred on day-night Test cricket, the DRS, and maintaining the balance between bat and ball through sporting pitches and bat size.
The committee said it was important that day-night Test cricket is "delivered to a consistently high standard across all member countries if the concept is to be successful, noting that the combination of ball, pitch, lighting levels and environmental conditions needed to allow for an even contest between bat and ball at all proposed day-night Test venues.
"The committee also... [expressed] concern about the quality of Test pitches, and in particular the common practice of home countries overtly preparing surfaces to suit their own teams...
"The committee's view was that MCC should strongly consider limiting the dimensions of cricket bats to help achieve a better balance between bat and ball."
The committee received a presentation from MIT engineers on their testing of the current technologies used in the DRS. It said it will release a detailed report on the subject, including recommended changes to the system, over the coming weeks.